At 3:30 AM on a cold, wet, windy and dark morning, it is easy to ask yourself what you are doing on a 72-foot sailboat. I’m sailing from Brazil to South Africa, while standing watch on deck. While everyone is asleep below inside the warmth of the sailboat. I find myself wide-awake, pondering not only, why I am here? I soon realize that I can see my entire life out there washing around amongst the sea’s choppy waves, only fueling my desire to be here.
To my surprise I am not bothered by the cold or the constant splashing of the waves that continue to hit me in the face. Despite wearing several layers of clothing, the wind blowing right through me is nothing more than a breath of fresh air. My watch, which started a 2:00 AM and will finish with a sunset at 6:00 AM.
Strangely enough the most obvious reasons that would make one ask such a question, in hours of such adverse conditions, do in no way bother me. To the contrary, what baffles my mind is that in a period of 5 minutes, 1,000 miles out to sea between Brazil and South Africa, we watched sadly as three huge pieces of plastic trash floated past us. Amongst the last frontier of pristine water, that is a striking color of cobalt blue, with one lone bird following our boat.
Sadly plastic is now more evident with each mile that we sail. The reach of man’s plastic pollution stretches farther than one can imagine and we are still some 500 miles or more, from reaching the beginning stages of the 5th Gyre, known as the South Atlantic Gyre.
This gyre has never been seen before with the naked eye. It’s a strange feeling of anticipation to see what waits when we do hit our mark entering into the territory of the 5th Gyre. I would use the word excitement, but how can I when writing about the pollution that plagues our beloved oceans.
My mind reels just thinking about it, wondering out loud. What will I see? How bad will it be? Is the 5th Gyre, really a floating island of plastic trash?
I have a number of questions that will remain unanswered. Luckily the most important one will not- I am here, because I care. Enduring the hardships of a 28-day sail as are the other 12-crew members aboard and hopefully; if you’re reading this right now you care as well.
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